We’ve just returned from CenterParcs Longleat after spending four nights in their Executive Two Bed Lodge and I’m pleased to say we had a brilliant time.
Now CenterParcs holidays aren’t cheap so we had high expectations of this break but we were able to save by going midweek during term time but looking at the price comparisons I think going during school holidays is out of the question. Luckily our little one is only two so we don’t have to worry about that yet though.
We arrived at 11:30am on Monday after having picked up an online food shop from Asda in Frome – this saved us a fair amount because while the shop on site is fairly reasonably priced (think Sainsburys prices without the deals) picking up the essentials definitely helped keep the pennies and pounds on budget.
Check in was smooth and really easy – although we weren’t allowed in our accommodation until 2:00 we were allowed to use the onsite facilities before then which was great. We were given our keys and directions to the lodge and told where to park in the meantime so off we went into the woods.
We strolled up the car free path up to the Plaza and had a delicious lunch at Café Rouge – all good and real food for children as well as helpful and understanding staff who are obviously very used to dealing with shouty tired toddlers!
At 2pm we went to the lodge which we were pleased to find was clean, well stocked and with a good use of space. It had a double bed in one room that had an en-suite with bath and shower and the second bedroom had two single beds and an en-suite with a shower. It would be excellent if the single beds could be fixed rather than on wheels as once my toddler discovered the beds could move she thought that was an excellent game and made getting her to sleep at night even more difficult! I would also be good if the master bedroom had more lights in it as the shelves are almost in constant darkness with no way to see what’s on them!
We hired bikes for the week as well as a trailer for our toddler to be in which I would recommend especially if you have a toddler. It’s a HUGE site and the convenience of having the bikes to hand when we needed to get back or get to something we’d booked quickly. There is also the joy of remembering that child-like joy of standing on your pedals and having the wind rush past your ears as you go downhill. This blogger will admit to actually whooping a few times. While wearing a cycle helmet – I am a grown up now and therefore afraid of falling off and smashing my head open. What is it about being a parent that makes you terrified of nearly everything?
We’d booked to do the swim and song which was just lovely however if you’ve done any swimming lessons such as waterbabies it will be stuff you’ve done before. I also wish it wasn’t so early – holiday is a time for lazy mornings and not being in a swimming pool at 8:30am bearing in mind we’d needed to feed her an hour earlier. Anyway it was very pleasant but we only did one out of the two sessions which was a shame but holiday needs came first. We also hired one of the cabanas while we were there – I’d say it would be good if you are in a group and trying to find a central point for you all to be but as a family of three with a toddler that refuses to stay still I wouldn’t recommend them.
We also booked her for the Mini Trek which she did enjoy – it was our fault we didn’t stay for the whole thing as we’d booked her too close to dinner so she’d put her stroppy pants on by then. She did enjoy swinging from the harness and the instructor was just brilliant and very patient with her intermittent shouting.
For the first time ever we booked Emma into a crèche – we’d never done this before so I was really worried and I knew husband was too even though he was playing it cool. I don’t know what we were worried about as she waved us off without a care in the world. We told them where we would be while she was there and they told us how they would notify us of any problems. We got a message she’d had a troublesome nappy but apart from that she had no issues – we even got a little report card about her time there and in the brief three hours she was there she came home with 3 paintings!
While she was in the crèche we went to the spa. This is literally the only thing that disappointed me about CenterParcs and it was very disappointing. I booked it over 6 weeks ago (roughly) and was lured in with the promise of a child free pool and foot baths but when we arrived we were asked if guest services had contacted us. This is never a good thing is it? Turns out the pool and the footbaths were inaccessible due to building work and we were refunded £10 each for the inconvenience. It was less about the inconvenience and more about the fact that we were told when we got to the reception and not when we arrived at CenterParcs and too late for us to change our minds. The building work would likely have been planned in advance so we should have been told much earlier. We tried to continue the World of Spa experience but its quite tough to make wandering from room to room with several other awkward feeling people and make that last three hours. We left with an hour and a half to go wishing we’d spent the money on the tree top adventure instead.
Taking a look at food – it’s not expensive but it’s not cheap either. The takeaways are particularly expensive but then you are a captive market and if you want a takeaway treat then you’ll pay through the nose for it. I really do recommend taking food with you – the kitchen is well equipped and you have a fridge so lots of storage but worth bearing in mind you don’t have a freezer.
Our favourite was the Grand café – goodness me but the food is good there. We recommend the breakfasts and Emma loved the pie, mash and chips. The staff must be mentioned as well as they are cheerful, helpful and were great with our little one. All of the restaurants either have or have easy access to play centres to help make meal times easier but the one at the Grand Café always seemed to be a little quieter than the rest.
I really hope to go back to CenterParcs in the future and make the most of being able to go out of term time before those prices really hike up. Emma is only two though so we’ve hopefully got many breaks to come at CenterParcs but the fact is that its not a cheap break. Four nights at CenterParcs came in at just under £700 including lodge, bikes, activities and food which is around what we are spending for a week in Spain next year with friends. Thankfully it was a good holiday and I’d say worth every penny but for four nights that’s a hefty expectation to meet.